Dr Micha Lazarus, Trinity



Biographical Information

Email: mdsl3@cam.ac.uk

I arrived at Trinity College as a Research Fellow in 2015.  I was an undergraduate and doctoral student at St John's College, Oxford, and spent time in between at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of California, Berkeley, where I took a Master's.  In the course of my D.Phil. I was awarded the Gordon Duff Prize in book history by the Bodleian Libraries.  I've taught Renaissance literature and served on admissions for several colleges in Oxford and Cambridge, and been awarded fellowships by the Harry Ransom Center, Dumbarton Oaks, the Renaissance Society of America, and the Folger Shakespeare Library.


Research Interests

I work on the reception of classical and continental literature in sixteenth-century England, bridging the divide between learning and vernacular literary innovation.  Much of my work in this field focuses on how the recovery of classical poetics transformed and was transformed by literary practice.

My doctoral research established the circulation of Aristotle’s Poetics in sixteenth-century England, several decades before it is usually thought to have become available, and involved me in a wide range of subjects, from Byzantine rhetoric and polyglot lexicography to Renaissance booklists, mid-century Reformation tragedy, and Sidney's Defence of Poesy. I'm currently reshaping this for publication with Oxford University Press, expanding its literary side through Ascham, Reformation tragedy, Buchanan, Sidney, Daniel, Shakespeare, and Milton.  An introduction to my work in this field can be found in 'Aristotelian Criticism in Sixteenth-Century England'.

My next project is a book entitled Reforming the Classics. From the 1530s to the 1550s a school of literary thought coalesced around Philip Melanchthon and his circle at Wittenberg. Disseminated mostly through Latin prefaces and commentaries in editions of the classical poets and dramatists, the Wittenberg school's reading of the classical corpus radiated across northern Europe, stimulating fresh literary experiment and providing a vocabulary for the lived experience of political and confessional schism. Reforming the Classics will tell the story of this extraordinary moment in which ancient literature occupied the heart of the Reformation, supplying the long-missing link between 'medieval' and 'Renaissance' literary criticism and pressing on the edges of the story of classical reception.

With Vladimir Brljak, I convene Poetics before Modernity, a series of projects (including a seminar series in 2016-17, an early-career conference in 2017, and two forthcoming edited collections) bringing together classicists, medievalists, and Renaissance scholars to present new work on Western literary theory from its ancient beginnings to 1700. I'm also Co-Investigator, with Gavin Alexander, on English Renaissance Poetics Online (ERPO), a digital project that maps the influence of classical and Renaissance poetics in English writing from 1500-1700.

I am also part of the literary community devoted to the memory and poetry of Isaac Rosenberg, a cousin on my mother's side. Isaac was born on 5 November 1890, the eldest son of impoverished Jewish immigrants from Lithuania; by his death on dawn patrol on 1 April, 1918, at the age of twenty-seven, he had composed some of the most powerful poetry of the war generation, scribbling his poems on scrap paper and sending them home to England. On 10 November, 2018, I was proud to narrate Isaac's poetry in a concert at Trinity, in a marvellous work for brass band by composer Liz Lane, Silver Rose.


Selected Publications


Aristotle's Poetics in Renaissance England (Oxford University Press, forthcoming)

Alexander Nowell's Early Life and Books (Bibliographical Society, forthcoming)


Edited volumes

Poetics before Modernity: Literary Theory in the West from Antiquity to 1700, co-edited with Vladimir Brljak (Oxford University Press, forthcoming c.2020)

Artes poeticae: Formations and Transformations, 1500-1700, co-edited with Vladimir Brljak, special issue of Classical Receptions Journal (forthcoming c.2020)


Articles and book chapters

'Tragedy at Wittenberg: Sophocles in Reformation Europe', Renaissance Quarterly 73.2 (forthcoming, summer 2020)

'The Scholemaster's Memories', in Roger Ascham and his Sixteenth-Century World, ed. Lucy Nicholas and Ceri Law (Brill, forthcoming, 2020)

‘Roger Ascham’s Books’, in Roger Ascham and his Sixteenth-Century World, ed. Lucy Nicholas and Ceri Law (Brill, forthcoming, 2020)

'Sound Aristotelians and How They Read', in Beyond Aristotle’s Poetics in the Italian Renaissance: New Directions in Criticism and Reception, ed. Bryan Brazeau (Bloomsbury, forthcoming, 2020)

'Sublimity by fiat: New Light on the English Longinus', in The Places of Early Modern Criticism, ed. Gavin Alexander, Emma Gilby, and Alexander Marr (Oxford University Press, forthcoming, 2019)

'«Anonymous to This Day»: Aristotle and the Question of Verse', in «In Other Words»: Translating Philosophy in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries, ed. David Lines and Anna L. Puliafito, Rivista di storia della filosofia 74.2 (2019), 267-85  [online here]

'Samuel Daniel and Talon's Rhetoric', Notes and Queries 65.4 (2018), 560-64  [online here]

'The Dramatic Prologues of Alexander Nowell: Accommodating the Classics at 1540s Westminster', Review of English Studies 69.288 (2018), 32-55  [online here]

'Poetry and Horseplay in Sidney’s Defence of Poesie', The Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 79 (2016), 149-82  [online here]

'Greek in Tudor England', The Etheridge Project (British Library & Hellenic Institute of Royal Holloway, University of London, 2016), 8 pp.  [online here]

'Aristotelian Criticism in Sixteenth-Century England', in Oxford Handbooks Online (Oxford University Press, 2016), 30 pp.  [online here]

'Sidney's Greek Poetics', Studies in Philology 112.3 (2015), 504-36  [online here]

'Greek Literacy in Sixteenth-century England', Renaissance Studies 29.3 (2015), 433-58  [online here]

'Silent Years and Speaking Books: Nicholas Udall in 1533', Notes and Queries 62.1 (2015), 35-39  [online here]

'Did Thomas Linacre bring Aristotle's Poetics to England?', under consideration at Bodleian Library Record


Public Engagement

'First night nerves' (on Alexander Nowell and the Westminster Latin play), Westminster Abbey Review 6 (Summer, 2019), 43-47

An Aristotle donated in memory of Mildred CecilEarly Modern Female Book Ownership, 4 Feb, 2019

Silver Rose (Liz Lane / Isaac Rosenberg), WWI Memorial Concert, Trinity College Chapel, 10 Nov, 2018


Recent and Upcoming Talks

'Elizabeth, Isocrates, and Roger Ascham’s Last Tutorial', Elizabethan and Jacobean Books & Readers, panel at RSA 2020 Philadelphia, 2-4 Apr, 2020

Eloquentia Academica, University of Leicester, 5-6 Sep, 2019

'"The First Great Fiat": Divine Speech and Literary Sublimity.' Poetics, Aesthetics, Criticism, 1640-1760, panel at ISECS International Congress, University of Edinburgh, 14-19 Jul, 2019

'Shakespeare's Aristotle: The Poetics in Renaissance England.' Delivered at:

Renaissance Colloquium, Harvard University, 10 Apr, 2019
Classics Faculty colloquium, University of Pennsylvania, 15 Mar, 2018
English Faculty, University of California, Berkeley, 26 Feb, 2018
Faculties of Medieval Studies, Classics, and Literature, Bard College, 19 Feb, 2018
English Faculty, Princeton University, 15 Feb, 2018

'"The English Iliad is truly miserable": Tragedy in Reformation Europe.' Material Witness Colloquium, Folger Shakespeare Library, 21 Mar, 2019

'Melanchthon and the Tragic Reformation.' Early Modern Views of Classical Greek Tragedy, panel at RSA 2019 Toronto, 17-19 Mar, 2019

‘Fighting over Greek in Early Modern Europe.’ Roundtable with Tanya Pollard and Jessica Wolfe, CUNY Graduate Center, 22 Feb, 2019

'Sophocles Reformed: Christian Tragedy in the Northern Renaissance.' Renaissance Workshop, University of Chicago, 28 Jan, 2019

Sonnet Structures, King's College London, 26 Nov, 2018

'Birdsongs and Sonnets: Listening to Renaissance Lyric.' University College London, 20 Nov, 2018

'Lucius Florus and a pownde of prunes: what was a book in Tudor Oxford?' History of Material Texts Seminar, University of Cambridge, 25 Oct, 2018

'Sophocles in Exile: Reforming Tragedy from Wittenberg to Cambridge.' Ancient Greek Drama in Latin 1506-1590. Readership, Translation, and Circulation, King’s College, London, 3-4 Sep, 2018

'Rhetores Graeci: The Tree of the Book.' Greek Matters, University of York, 19 Jul, 2018

'The English PetRAAWRK! Birdsong in an Elizabethan Madrigal.' Song Seminar, University of Cambridge, 9 May, 2018

'Petrarch and the Nightingale.' Imitation and Lyric Poetics: New Comparative Perspectives, panel at RSA 2018 New Orleans, 22-24 Mar, 2018

'Reformation Poetics and the Wittenberg Sophocles.' Poetics before Modernity Conference 2017, CRASSH, University of Cambridge, 14-15 Dec, 2017

'Tragedy at Wittenberg.' English Faculty Research Seminar, University of Cambridge, 20 Nov, 2017

'Anonymous to this day: Aristotle and the Question of Verse.' In Other Words: Translating Philosophy in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries, University of Warwick, 10-12 May, 2017

'Terence, Seneca, and the Gods of Westminster.' New Texts in English Criticism, panel at RSA 2017 Chicago, 30 Mar-1 Apr, 2017

'Safe Reading at 1540s Westminster: New Discoveries from a Bodleian Manuscript.' Fellows' Research Talk, Trinity College, Cambridge, 18 May, 2016

'Sublimity by fiat: New Light on the English Longinus.' Readings and Rewritings of Ancient Texts, 1650-1800, Corpus Christi College, Oxford, 14 May, 2016

'Nowell's Little Soldiers: Terence, Seneca, and the God Aesculapius in 1540s Westminster.' Early Modern Interdisciplinary Seminar, University of Cambridge, 4 May, 2016

'Diphthongs and Wormwood: Aristotle's Poetics from Cheke to Shakespeare.' University of Texas at Austin, 11 Apr, 2016

'Gran tempo abbandonata, & negletta: The Rediscoveries of Aristotle's Poetics.' Lost and Found, panel at RSA 2016 Boston, 31 Mar-2 Apr, 2016